As families find themselves staying at home in an effort to help flatten the curve, there’s a new need for engaging and educational activities to keep children and parents learning and interested in the world around them.

To help fill this void, Santa Monica businesses are stepping up with creative, family-friendly activities to help keep children engaged and learning from home. Read on for a list of content and lessons that can be remotely accessed from the safety of your home.

Get started on some family fun with our Santa Monica coloring book, commemorating our city’s end location of the historic Route 66 and featuring color pages of iconic attractions in the beach city. Or try your hand at making your own animal carousel, just like the one on Santa Monica Pier, with this from the Santa Monica Conservancy.

Learn Oceanography with Heal the Bay
Heal the Bay is a Santa Monica-based non-profit dedicated to making the coastal waters and watersheds of Greater Los Angeles healthy and clean. The environmental organization has launched a new interactive science education series named “Knowledge Drops,” defined for students in 3rd to 8th grade. In the series, a local team of scientists, experts and advocates explore the water world and offer fun lessons about marine environments.

Live Knowledge Drops sessions are held several times each week, covering topics ranging from sewage and storm drains to marine protected areas and sharks. Each session lasts one-hour and includes a live presentation, Q&A, polls and videos. If you are unable to attend live, past recorded sessions are also posted online. For younger children, Heal the Bay also offers activity guides in the form of colorful guidebooks designed to get kids inter. Guides are available for download in English and Spanish.

Join in on Recess with Cayton Children’s Museum
While the popular Cayton Children’s Museum, located at Santa Monica Place and dedicated to creating a future where young people are nurtured at every age to become compassionate, confident human beings may be closed, they are still finding a way to achieve their mission virtually with Cayton Recess on Instagram.

Movement is vital for child development and with recent school closures, children may be missing out on recess, an essential time to get up and moving. Cayton Children’s Museum is holding virtual activities every week on IGTV and Youtube. Join in weekly for music, storytime, art making and other activities designed to entertain and engage children.

Master Interior Design with Kelly Wearstler
Iconic interior designer Kelly Wearstler is world-renowned for her colorful and textured designs that play with the concepts of refinement and rawness. Here in Santa Monica she fashioned the interior of Viceroy Santa Monica and most recently the Santa Monica Proper Hotel. The latest hotel in the beach city, Santa Monica Proper Hotel optimizes the city’s abundant ocean breezes and natural light and finds inspiration in the organic tones and textures of the local coastline.

Learn the foundations of interior design from the award-winning designer herself with Kelly Wearstler’s online class on Masterclass. In the eight-part series, Wearstler takes students behind the scenes to learn how to make any space feel larger and choose colors, materials and textures with confidence.

Cook In with the Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories
During this period where we are staying home, it is an excellent time to teach children how to cook healthy and hearty meals using the ingredients found in your cupboard. To this end, The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories is helping parents teach children recipes and culinary fundamentals with a series of different classes.

Located at Santa Monica Place, the school is a beloved place for adults and children alike to learn classic cooking techniques and use locally sourced ingredients to make amazing meals. While the school is temporary closed, they are offering Parent & Child (adults assisting kids), Teens Make Dinner (family meals) and After School Special (dessert) virtual classes.

Read with the Santa Monica Library  
At this time all Santa Monica Public Library locations are currently closed, however the library system’s extensive digital services offer ample resources to support learning for the whole family. Those with a Santa Monica library card can log-in with their account details to access e-books, e-audiobooks, digital newspapers and magazines as well as stream movies and music.

Contactless curbside pickup is also available at the Main Library. Books, DVDs, audiobooks, and music CDs can be requested through the Library’s catalog or over the phone by calling 310-458-8600, M – F, 10am – 4pm. An email, text, or voicemail will be sent when items are ready for pickup. Pickup appointments can be scheduled online or via phone and are available M – F, 11am – 3pm. More details are available at smpl.org/curbside.

Attend an Online Arts Workshop with Professional Artists
18th Street Arts Center, the largest artist residency program in Southern California, has launched Arts Learning Lab @ Home, a series of Zoom arts classes for kids and families schooling from home. These hands-on artmaking workshops are led by professional artists in residence at 18th Street as well as members of their national and international artist community. The workshops are taught in both English and Spanish for those teachers that are bilingual, have been translated in both languages and are posted here as on-demand videos. The workshops cover a range of fun, hands-on, and participatory ideas like meditation through drawing and, a rhythm workshop in your kitchen and a monster movement workshop.

Create Art with Paint:Lab
Children and adults alike are turning to artistic endeavors to fill their time and alleviate stress in these challenging times. Paint:Lab is offering live-streaming art classes for kids. In need of art supplies? The business is also selling art supplies by special order. Call (310) 450-9200 for details.

Enter the Coastal Art & Poetry Contest
California students are invited to submit artwork or poetry with a California coastal or marine theme to the annual Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. The deadline to submit is January 31, 2021, and entries can be submitted online.

Winners in art and poetry will be selected in each of five grade-level categories (K-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12) to receive a $100 gift certificate to an art supply store or a bookstore. Each winner’s teacher will receive a $50 gift certificate from Acorn Naturalists. All winning and honorably mentioned art and poetry will be part of a traveling exhibit, as conditions allow.

Make Melodies with Music Lessons
Music has proven benefits for child development and is shown to help improve math skills and lead to greater social-emotional skills. With schools closed, many young musicians may be missing music lessons that come as part of the school day. However, for students who are already learning how to play an instrument, the extra time at home can provide extra time to practice their craft.

J&M Strings, a local music school is offering students virtual lessons through Zoom or FaceTime to help them prepare for upcoming auditions.

Santa Monica based Green Brooms Music Academy is also holding virtual music lessons. Instructional services include piano, voice, drum and percussion, acoustic and electric guitar, string instruments and more.

Improve STEM Skills Online
As students shift from in-classroom learning to studying online from the safety of their homes, many parents may be searching for new ways to help their children develop their skills in STEM disciplines, or science, technology, engineering and math. Digital Dragon is offering online classes and camps taught in real life following a specific schedule. Their programs are aimed at helping technically-oriented kids hone their skills through fun and engaging projects including creating video games, building an app or coding.

For those looking to focus on math exclusively, Mathnasium of Santa Monica has launched Mathnasium@home, live web-based Math tutoring. Offering the same instructors and Mathnasium Method as at their center, learning can happen anywhere there’s an internet connection.

For a wider variety of academic subjects, look to Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services Westside. Offering online one-on-one tutoring services for students pre-K to 12th grade, from subject learning to test preparation. This business also offers college courses.

Sign Up for Academic Support
With all aspects of life moving to an at-home structure, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica continues to offer virtual programs & activities on a daily basis in an effort to support our Club members and their families. It has also expanded its services to include in-person learning support during the school day. Students ages 6-18 can now sign up for morning, afternoon or full day sessions which include academic support, technology access, safe peer collaboration, and extracurricular activities through 12 person learning pods.

Half-day programs are free for families after they pay the $20 annual membership fee. Students can also enroll in the full day program for $75 a week and all programs run for a month at a time so students are interacting with the same limited group of people.

There are limited spots available for the first month of in-person programming at the Lincoln center. To learn more email info@smbgc.org or call 310-394-2582.

Join A Dance Party with Funky Divas & Dudes
Join the Funky Divas & Dudes in their virtual Zoom dance classes for kids ages 4-10. Have fun and get great exercise, while gettin’ funky with dance industry professionals through warm-ups/stretch, dance moves, dance routines and dance games. Classes cost $15/class.

Looking for some after school enrichment? Rock out with the Funky Divas & Dudes in this awesome virtual Hip-Hop Dance class for kids ages 4-12 on Mondays from 3 to 3:45 p.m. Learn the basic techniques of dance, get great exercise, gain self-confidence and HAVE FUN right from your home! This class includes a warm-up/stretch, learn Hip-Hop dance routines to all your favorite radio tunes, and even play some fun dance games!